Londoner's Diary: Will Branson’s flamingos have leg to stand on?

Pretty flamingos: Enjoying a splash at the Kensington Roof Gardens (Photo Oli Scarff/Getty Images): Getty Images

WILL someone think of the flamingos? Kensington Roof Gardens, the famous west London venue, is closing its doors, The Times reports, but fails to ask the key question, the one on the lips of all bird lovers: what will happen to the famous flamingos who add sparkle to the high rise party spot?

There are four of the tropical birds on the roof. Bill and Ben arrived first in the Eighties and then Splosh and Pecks were introduced in 2008.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is the leaseholder of the party space, which has hosted everyone from the Williams sisters in their annual pre-Wimbledon bash to Cara Delevingne.

It is closing because it is struggling to turn a profit. The rooftop has a grotto and a walled garden in which the flamingos strut around, their wings clipped to keep them grounded. “One of our key priorities is ensuring the flamingos’ continued wellbeing,” said a Virgin spokesman, but rehousing plans have yet to be finalised.

Would they entertain offers for their birds from beneficent owners of large, wildlife friendly country estates (or even The Londoner’s office) we enquired. The spokesman hesitated, and said it could work with “trusted wildlife sanctuaries”. But where could Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks go?

The RSPB said it doesn’t have a policy on rehousing captive birds. Zoos and other possible venues, including Flamingo Land in Yorkshire, were, er, cagey and didn’t want to confirm or deny that it could house them. One place they would look lovely would be the lawn outside Harry and Meghan’s Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace. Just a suggestion.


Tony Adams, the former Arsenal and England captain, in tomorrow’s new issue of The Oldie, talking about his job, working as a sports director in China: “Doing business is difficult with the Chinese — they do it all around drinking. I went to meetings with business people and said: ‘I don’t drink — when I drink, I am a crazy man; I’ll beat you up.’ You can actually hire people to drink for you. Qi Liu, my assistant, used to drink for me, bless him.”

Aim high, you could hit the headlines

Late last year, Ian Katz announced he would be leaving his role as editor of Newsnight, creating a vacancy at the top of the BBC’s flagship news programme. The job listing is on the corporation’s website, and calls for a candidate who “will understand and develop the show’s distinctive character and identity” and “represent the BBC at a senior level”. Sounds like a tough job, but it looks like a few chancers are giving it a try. A subsection below the job advert shows: “People who applied for this job also applied for...” Top of the list? A role on the BBC Production Trainee Scheme, an entry-level 11-month placement. Worth a punt, we suppose.

House girls put their best feet forward

Women's equality party: Rachel Johnson arrives at the Big Brother House (Photo Karwai Tang/WireImage)

It’s what Emmeline Pankhurst would have wanted. To celebrate the centenary of landed women over 30 getting the vote, eight women have been shut inside the Big Brother House. Contestants including journalist Rachel Johnson and former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe will have to manage a weekly budget and shuffle between two bedrooms, one named after Pankhurst and one after Emily Davison. Davison was a leading campaigner for women’s suffrage who died after stepping in front of King George V’s horse at the Derby. Who knows what the contestants will do this year to win the vote?


Is Soho House venturing to the Caribbean? The Londoner hears that Nick Jones, founder of the club and hotel chain, was spotted on Canouan Island in St Vincent and the Grenadines yesterday. The remote isle, which hosted golfer Rory McIlroy’s nuptials, already has a Mandarin Oriental ,while its private landing strip should please the glossy posse. Jones’s wife is Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young. Perhaps her castaways should demand membership.

Tiny fingers on the buttons

Fingers on the button: Donald Trump at the Oval Office (Photo Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

DONALD Trump has started the New Year in robust form, waving his nuclear button at Kim Jong Un and boasting that “it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Let’s hope he doesn’t get confused. Last year a profile of the Donald in the New York Times noted the President has another big red button on his desk, one which summons his valet to bring in a Diet Coke.

Trump is a 12-cans-a-day man, which must get his aides regularly ducking for cover “Everyone does get a little nervous when I press that button,” he told one reporter.

Trump isn’t the only world leader with a Diet Coke habit. Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly fond of the fizzy tipple, while North Korean hackers apparently stole the recipe to evade sanctions on the product in Pyongyang. Time for a Diet Coke break?

Tweet of the day

So tweets Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams. A memory most people would forget.


NSFW of the day: internet site PornHub has complained after viewers uploaded family-friendly material to the site to avoid copyright laws. The first act of Hamilton was posted as “Revolutionary Twinks Have Historical Fun ...”

Hitting the high notes on Broadway

Fans in high places: Iestyn Davies with Steven Spielberg (Photo @iestyn_davies)

British tenor Iestyn Davies, above right, is taking Broadway by storm, appearing alongside Mark Rylance in Farinelli and the King. And last night he was in good company: Steven Spielberg, his wife Kate Capshaw and daughter Mikaela George were in the audience. “Spielberg and I discussed the sequel, ‘Saving Farinelli’s Privates’,” Davies said.